Mary (Lucas ’73) Karnick can remember Saint Mary’s as far back as she has memories. She says, matter-of-factly, “Saint Mary’s was always in the family vocabulary.”
“When we were young children, we went to Winona for vacation and would stay in the rectory at Saint Mary’s, and our mother would cook breakfast for the priest over there,” she said. “At that time there were four of us (now there are seven) and we would play on the campus. Brother Leo Northam always had a wiener dog that we would play with.”
The Lucas family’s long legacy with Saint Mary’s began with Mary’s father, Daniel E. Lucas, who graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1947. His mother, Mary’s grandmother, was widowed early and worked hard on the family farm. Education, Mary said, was always a priority in her home. Her determination coupled with Daniel Lucas’ high school association with the Christian Brothers, starting in 1938 at St. Mel’s High School in Chicago, are what brought him to Saint Mary’s.
A member of the university’s famous Navy V-12 Program, Daniel Lucas stayed on fourth floor of Saint Mary’s Hall. His memories, and his friendships, particularly with Msgr. Harold Dittman ’45 and Msgr. J. Richard Feiten ’45, would last a lifetime.
As an alumnus, he would serve on the President’s Council and proudly displayed a memento of that service on the family room wall in his home. He and his wife Veronica thoroughly enjoyed Homecoming weekends and always made sure that Saint Mary’s staff knew how much they appreciated the arrangements and courtesies shown them. In a 1984 letter to then president Brother Louis DeThomasis, Dan Lucas noted that “Saint Mary’s has been an important part of our family life, and the individual stories would fill a very large book.”
The Lucas chapter at Saint Mary’s continued with Mary who had the special designation of being one of Saint Mary’s “First Women” as the college went co-ed in 1969. She came as a sophomore and majored in sociology —one of the first of her gender to do so at the university.
In the course of her college career, she also met her husband, Kevin Karnick ’72, when she was his R.A. in the Village.
In general, Mary remembers Saint Mary’s as “a fun place to go to school” where students built close relationships with faculty. “Matt Vetter was my advisor and he had a young family and sociology was just starting out,” she said, adding with a laugh. “I used to babysit for him, and they fed me dinner, so it was a nice way to get out of the dorms.” But the connections to Saint Mary’s kept coming. Daniel and Veronica Lucas sent six of their seven children to Saint Mary’s.
Mary’s brother Peter ’74 and she attended Saint Mary’s together. Their sister Ann ’75, M’02 came when she was a junior. Their older brother Daniel P. ’79 came several years later. And another two siblings, Kathleen (Lucas ’83) Reding and John ’84 Lucas (who married another alum Judy Mullins ’83) followed.
Eventually Mary and Kevin’s son Daniel ’08 and daughter Mary C. Karnick ’11 also attended. Their majors ranged from theatre to political science, and communications to business.
“Everybody followed a different path,” Mary said. “Everybody had different experiences and talk about it differently.”
Mary explained how her own children, very different from one another, experienced Saint Mary’s. Her son, a criminal justice major, only applied to Saint Mary’s. He knew his path and is currently a state trooper for the state of Texas. Her daughter attended college for a while and then took some time off before returning to major in graphic design.
“We were grateful they were there and they both needed different things, and Saint Mary’s gave them both what they needed at the time,” she said. Dan and Veronica Lucas instilled in their children not only a passion for the university but also a commitment to give back to a place that had meant so much to their family. After Dan passed away several years ago, Veronica continued to express the dream she and Dan shared of leaving a legacy at Saint Mary’s.
Following Veronica’s passing in 2012, the Lucas children, and their spouses, fulfilled Dan and Veronica’s dream by establishing the Daniel E. ’47 and Veronica M. Lucas Legacy Scholarship, an endowed scholarship to benefit the children of alumni in Saint Mary’s second century.
The purpose of this endowment is to serve as a permanent and perpetual source of financial assistance for students at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota who are children of alumni and who are not otherwise eligible for merit-based or need-based financial awards or scholarships.
“That was part of my dad’s overall plan,” Mary said. “He wanted to give something significant back to Saint Mary’s because it had done so much for him and our family.”
Saint Mary’s University thanks the Lucas family – Daniel P. ’79 and Christine Lucas, Mary M. (Lucas ’73) and Kevin P. Karnick ’72, Peter M. Lucas ’74, Ann T. Lucas ’75 M’02, Joseph P. Lucas, Kathleen V. (Lucas ’83) and James A. Reding, and John R. ’84 and Judy (Mullins ’83) Lucas – for their thoughtfulness and generosity in honoring Dan and Veronica and ensuring their legacy for future generations of students at Saint Mary’s.